Articles• Definite: the (specific)• Indefinite: (not specific)a - before consonant sounds, i.e. a car;an – before vowel sounds, i.e. an apple.Note: /y/ is a consonant sound, the letter “H” may be voiceless. Then, explain to the students that the usage of articles depends on the sounds, not on the letters.Ex.: A year ago, a university;She waited for half an hour,
Usages of the definite article1 – Something specific.The clothes you gave me didn’t fit properly.2 – When the speaker and the listener are talking about the same specific item.Andrew: You know I don’t care about furniture, Jane.Jane: But I bet the one I bought to our house will change your mind, Andrew.3 – For the second and all other references to the same noun.First reference: My mom bought a dishwasher last year.Second reference: The dishwasher helped us save time after lunch.4 – Superlative form.The best things in life are for free;The most annoying pet peeve is, for sure, chewing gum loudly.
Usages of the definite article5 – Names of countries that look plural, including countries that end in –s or have the words united, union, republic, or kingdom.The Netherlands, the United States, the Soviet Union, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Angola, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.6- Parts of something (except body parts).General: In a living room, there is a coffee table, a sofa (or couch), a TV set, an armchair, a painting.Parts: Lana’s living room is incredible! The couch, the coffee table, the relaxing armchair, the TV set, the paintings, and even the clock… She’s got such an expensive taste!7- The most bodies of water except individual lakes.The Paranaíba River, the Arctic Ocean, the Dead Sea, the Great Lakes (but Lake Michigan).8- Geographic parts of the globe and geographic areas, deserts and peninsulas.The equator, the Europe, the Sahara Desert, the North.
Usages of the indefinite articles1 – Before a noun or an adjective (+ noun) that begins with a consonant sound.A pencil, a red pencil.2 – Use an before a noun or an adjective (+ noun) that begins with a vowel sound.An eraser, an enormous eraser.3 – Remember that words beginning with the letters h or u can be problematic. The use of a and an depends on the beginning sound of the word.A hacker, an honorable politician.The word hacker begins with the consonant sound /h/, but honorable begins with a vowel sound because the letter h is silent.A unique experience, an upgradeThe word unique begins with the consonant sound /y/, but upgrade begins with a vowel sound. The use of a and an is determined by the next word’s initial sound, not its spelling.
No article: (∅)1 – When you want to talk about a category or group in general, use no article.General: Credit cards may be dangerous.Specific: The credit cards in my wallet are all blocked.2 – Use no article before abstract nouns such as feelings or ideas.Wrong: A person’s health depends on the immunological care.Correct: A person’s health depends on immunological care.Wrong: The wisdom comes with time.Correct: Wisdom comes with time.
- Reference:Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners, A Practical Handbook. Keith S. Folse, 2009. University of Michigan Press.